This past March, the National Research Council’s Committee on the Planetary Science and NASA released a survey outlining goals for planetary exploration for the coming decade. From 2013 to 2022, Mars and the search for life will take centre stage. New missions launching every two years will take advantage of every launch opportunity, each adding new research to the central questions surrounding the history (or lack thereof) of life on Mars. (Viking 1 takes its self-portrait on Mars. 1976.)
But there are already threats to these long-term goals: NASA’s over-budget James Webb Space Telescope, scheduling conflicts thwarting cooperation with the European Space Agency, and the all-important successful landing of NASA’s upcoming Mars Science Laboratory’s Sky Crane system.
There are a number of reasons progress on Mars could stop before it really begins. Read the whole article on Vintage Space.